Strains and sprains are two common injuries your ankle may suffer. Whether due to a sports injury or simply your foot twisting off the sidewalk, both are painful and, when not properly taken care of, can linger for long periods of time. If you suffer any kind of ankle injury it is important to come in and have it looked into right away. While you may know when your ankle is broken, here are the differences between an ankle strain and an ankle sprain.
What is an Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain is when the ligaments in your ankle either tear or stretch. Due to this, there are varying levels of a sprain. A sprain often sounds less painful or time-consuming than a break. However, if the ligament completely tears it will take time for it to mend.
The ligaments in question within the ankle are bands that connect the two bones of your ankle together.
What is an Ankle Strain
An ankle strain is a bit different from a sprain. The strain is a tearing of the tendon or muscles. A tendon is a cord of tissue that connects muscles to your bones. When a strain occurs on your ankle it’s usually right around the hamstring muscle on the back side of your thigh.
Treating Ankle Strains and Sprains
Much of the treatment with regards to a strain and sprain are the same. You’ll want to stay off of your foot, ice the injury, elevate it anyplace pressure on it. A mild can be treated without much in way of medical treatments. In this instance, it’s a stretch of the ligament and it just needs some time. When you see the doctor you may be given crutches to help keep weight off your foot, but for the most part, you don’t need to do anything else but wait.
Serious strains and sprains are different. In these instances, you may need a surgical procedure. Torn ligaments and separated muscles or tendons are not only painful but may prevent your ankle and muscles from functioning correctly. Additionally, the torn or separated tissue may fuse back onto the bone incorrectly, which will hinder movement permanently (unless it is surgically disconnected and attached in the correct location).
Symptoms of an ankle strain and sprain are similar, but if you know what to look out for you can tell the difference. You will suffer from pain and swelling with each injury (ice and pressure can help keep swelling down). In the event of a sprain, you’ll have very limited ability to move your joint. You might also hear a “pop” sound in your joint. In the event of a strain injury, you may suffer from muscle spasms after the injury. You’ll also find it difficult to move the affected muscle. So with a sprain, you might not be able to move your ankle, while with a strain you might not be able to flex your muscle.
It is extremely important to see a medical professional following any kind of ankle injury, so you know the extent of the problem and what needs to be done to correct it.